Hostage-taker dead; four hostages killed

Aug. 23, 2010 at 5:10 PM
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MANILA, Philippines, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- An ex-police officer took a tourist bus hostage in downtown Manila Monday in a standoff that lasted 12 hours before commandos stormed the vehicle, police said.

At the end, the gunman, identified as Rolando Mendoza, and seven hostages, all from Hong Kong, were dead, The New York Times reported.

The drama was carried live on television and Mendoza, 55, armed with an M-16, watched the broadcasts, police said. He sent out notes demanding his job and benefits back.

Police sharpshooters killed Mendoza, who witnesses said fired randomly at the hostages.

GMA News reported at least five hostages were wounded in the assault on the bus. One of the wounded was in critical condition, authorities said, with four others in stable condition.

The bus driver, who escaped before the assault began, had reportedly told officials most of the hostages were dead, the news network reported.

Reports indicated about 30 SWAT members were involved in the attack, with some police officers taking sledgehammers to the bus's windows.

Mendoza boarded the Hong Thai Travel bus about 9 a.m.

Police immobilized the bus by shooting at its tires when it appeared it was leaving the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, officials said.

Nine of the bus passengers had been released before the driver escaped, GMANews.TV said.

The gunfire began after police officer Gregorio Mendoza, brother of the hijacker, was arrested by Manila police after complaining to reporters other officers were threatening him, the Times reported.

National Capital Region Police Office Director Leocadio Santiago said police had negotiated with Mendoza, who had been dismissed two years ago on an extortion complaint, ABS-CBN News reported.

Mendoza reportedly hijacked the tourist bus to force authorities to speed up a review of his administrative case, ABS-CBN said.

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